A dog’s lifespan can be categorized into three age groups: puppyhood, adulthood, and senior years. As it ages, your dog’s dietary requirements transition to accommodate its changing needs. Also, their appetite may transform as they mature. This is why it’s essential to know the best time to switch brands and types of kibbles that’d suit your dog’s health and eating habits.
Food for puppies is designed to be packed with calories and essential nutrients for building bones and muscles and strengthening their bodily systems. Meanwhile, many adult dogs require calories, nutrients, and protein in specific amounts to maintain their strength while staying at a healthy weight. Because of the difference in the dietary requirements, dogs must be given the type of nourishment appropriate for their age.
If you’d like some suggestions on how and when to change your dog’s diet from puppy food to adult dog food, you can consider the following tips:
Consider The Dog’s Age And Breed Size
Dogs around six to 12 months of age commonly display readiness for transitioning to adult dog food. Some of these signs include leftover portions of food after each feeding session or skipped meals, which signifies that the dog may have already felt full with less puppy food since it’s calorie-dense.
Apart from these signs, you can also consider your dog’s breed size when thinking about switching to adult dog food.
Dogs of smaller breeds such as corgis, pugs, and chihuahuas tend to mature faster, with many reaching adulthoods between seven and nine months of age. On the other hand, medium-sized dog breeds such as basset hounds, border collies, and beagles usually mature after 12 to 16 months of life. Finally, the largest dog breeds like Great Danes, Rottweilers, and Saint Bernards can take up to two years to reach maturity.
To prevent obesity and nutritional imbalances, you can consult your veterinarian for the recommended dog food best-suited to your furry friend. This step is crucial to avoid giving matured dogs puppy food, which can cause bone weakness, diarrhoea, and unwanted weight gain in the long run.
Adjust Food Portions And Feeding Times
Since puppies require more nutrition to boost their growth and development, they’re usually allowed to have several small meals throughout the day.
For instance, puppies under four months old may eat solid food four to five times each day. Feedings are usually done between breastfeeding sessions to help them transition to eating and wean them from milk more efficiently. After four months, they can have three feedings per day. Meanwhile, treats should be limited to 10% of their daily nutritional intake to maintain balance.
It’s said that a dog’s caloric intake requirement gradually decreases as it matures. Thus, it’s essential to switch to adult dog food that matches their needs. Also, its food intake should be gradually cut down to two feedings a day to ensure proper weight management and adequate digestion. To do this effectively, it’s essential to stick to a set feeding schedule. Doing so will prevent grazing and encourage healthy feeding behaviours, such as eating and chewing slowly.
When it comes to portions, each food serving should be measured and prepared according to the instructions on its label. Aside from this, it’s also essential to consider the dog’s weight and the vet’s recommendations based on its health status. Lastly, treats should only be limited to one to two servings per day to prevent overeating.
Observe Your Dog’s Feeding Behaviour
Another way of telling whether your dog is ready for adult food is by observing its feeding behaviour. One good indication that it’s ready for a change of diet is by seeing how much food it consumes per feeding and if there are any noticeable changes in its appetite. If the dog is ready for lighter feeding intended for adults, more puppy food leftovers will be left after each feeding session.
Plus, your dog may suddenly seem picky or have less appetite than usual. Some may also skip meals, become sluggish, or have stomach problems because of the nutrient-dense puppy food. If this happens, consult your vet immediately and seek treatment right away. Furthermore, consult with your veterinarian about helping your dog adjust to adult nutrition and feeding patterns.
Once you’ve confirmed your dog’s readiness for adult food, you can create a feeding plan to help your dog transition to a new diet with ease. Depending on your dog’s appetite and food preferences, it can take some time before it gets used to eating less amount of food twice daily. To make this process easier, you can serve adult dog food on specific days of the week until your dog gets more comfortable and shows good health with its new nutritional plan.
Meanwhile, you can also consult your vet, especially if your dog has special dietary needs or health issues. Additionally, some dogs require more time to adjust to a new diet, and it might take a few attempts at different flavour profiles and brands before you can find one that best suits your dog’s tastes. Hence, it’s essential to be patient with transitioning and make adjustments that would help your dog consume the right amount of food and nutrients.
Encourage Healthy Mealtime Behavior
Transitioning to an adult diet may be the best time also to improve its behaviour during feeding. Aside from making mealtimes more convenient and hassle-free, healthy feeding behaviours can also significantly benefit your dog’s health and well-being.
For instance, if your dog has a habit of eating too fast, changing its food and portion sizes may encourage it to slow down. On the other hand, dogs that consume too much food would benefit from having smaller meals with intervals to help them unlearn old eating habits and eat a sufficient amount of food per feeding session.
Your dog’s diet and feeding schedule should be based on their health and age requirements and the vet’s recommendations. As your dog grows older and matures, it’s essential to make the necessary changes in their meals and nutrition intake to ensure that they’re optimal for their health and well-being. In addition, doing so will help prevent sickness or discomfort and prolong their lifespan.